Garden hoses are household items many people have but rarely think twice about. For most of us, it’s just something we own and replace when necessary.
But if you think about it, having an awesome garden hose is essential. Not only do you want one that doesn’t tangle and add stress to your day, you need one that’s also safe.
We’re looking into some of the best and worst garden hoses on the market. It might surprise you to learn how unsafe certain hoses can be.
Let’s dive in!
Garden Hoses, What to Know Before You Buy
The first step in your search for your ideal garden hose is knowing what you need it for. Garden hoses come in varying lengths and diameters. Measure the longest distance you’ll need it to stretch out, and add a couple of feet.
Next, consider your yard and what kind of land and weather conditions that hose will be used in. If your uncle Jimmy is likely to run over it while you’re watering the lawn, make sure the pressure rating is 350 psi (pounds per square inch) or above. The higher the number, the stronger the hose.
And then there’s the material used. Inexpensive vinyl hoses are common but tend to kink and are hard to coil. Polymer and polyurethane hoses are sturdier and must be coiled properly to avoid twists and tangles. And if you’re ready for a serious upgrade, try a rubber or metal garden hose.
Using high-quality nozzles and couplings is just as important as the hose itself. It’s a real drag when a perfectly working hose sprays water around at the faucet connector. Go for brass fittings if it’s in your budget.
And speaking of budget, put a line item in for storage and maintenance. A reel, caddy, or hider will help keep your hose in good working condition.
Look for garden hoses marked “drinking water safe,” especially if your kids drink from them in the summer.
Pro Tip: RVers need to know How Many Hoses Should an RVer Carry?
3 of the Best and 2 of the Worst Garden Hoses
Although many variables exist when choosing a suitable garden hose, one thing is certain; a good one will make your life easier rather than harder. Sounds simple. But think about this the next time you spend hours untangling or whipping your hose to work.
Here are our picks for best and worst garden hoses of 2023.
The Best Garden Hoses
Who doesn’t love a neon yellow-green hose? The Flexilla Garden Hose comes in sizes ranging from 25 to 100 feet. Made from highly flexible polymer, this workhorse is easy to grip and rope throughout the garden. You can wrap it around corners with no snags or kinks.
We love this garden hose for its variety of uses. You can wash your car, fill buckets, or plug the sprinkler in without it flipping. And it’s not too pricey.
Best of all, Flexilla’s inner tube material is marked as drinking water safe.
#2 Bionic Steel
We recommend the Bionic Steel Garden Hose for those in more extreme weather conditions. This ultra-durable workhorse is surprisingly lightweight. Commercial-grade stainless steel makes it highly weatherproof and thus should last for years.
Bionic Steel comes with brass fittings and an on/off valve. It’s ideal for yards or work areas with machinery and tools lying around because it’s almost impossible to break. Customers also love that animals can’t chew holes in them. In addition, it’s very flexible.
The price is about the same whether you buy the 50, 75, or 100-foot-long hose.
The Zero-G garden hose is an excellent choice for RVers. It’s lightweight, portable, and easy to maneuver when full of water. The heavy-duty vinyl construction makes the hose durable yet easy to coil. And it comes with crush-proof aluminum couplings.
Not only that, but the Zero-G can bundle with an RV sewer hose kit. The kit includes two 10-foot sewer hoses with pre-attached bayonet and lug fittings. You can get the sewer kit with a transparent elbow, the hose, and adaptors for around $100.
One caveat is that the Zero-G is only rated for use above 35F. So it’s not ideal for winter wanderers.
Pro Tip: Doing some cold weather camping? Find out What Is a Heated RV Water Hose to keep your equipment working in all temperatures.
The Worst Garden Hoses
The HDX 50-foot garden hose from Home Depot is terrible. Don’t let the low price lure you in. It’s lightweight, nylon, and sure, it works. But as we’ve discussed, couplings and attachments matter. So a plastic coupling isn’t a great selling point. And the pressure rating is only 250 psi.
But the more significant issue with the HDX garden hose is its toxicity. According to a 2016 ecology study, these PVC/nylon combos contain phthalates and lead. By now, most of us know that lead is poisonous to humans. But it’s not as widely known that phthalates, the chemical that makes plastic soft, can cause cancer and other severe human diseases.
There’s even a link in the description on Home Depot’s website linking to a California cancer warning.
#5 Apex NeverKink
There’s debate over whether the Apex NeverKink remains one of the most toxic garden hoses on the market. On one hand, if you search for this hose at Walmart, you’ll see the same cancer warning as the HDX. But the Apex website states it’s drinking water safe and lead-free.
Regardless, we say it’s better to be safe than sorry. Besides, there are plenty of other options out there. When tested in 2016, the Apex NeverKink contained a cocktail of chemical hazards. Hopefully, they’ve improved their product since then, but we’re not taking any chances until we know for sure.
How to Maintain Your Garden Hose
Whew! Who would have thought that a garden hose could be toxic? Unfortunately, they’re one of many products manufactured during the rise of plastics and easy-to-use products. But the good news is we now have ways to protect ourselves from the OOPS decades of the 50s and beyond.
Reading labels on most things you purchase is important, including hoses. If you see a garden hose marked with a California Prop 65 warning, then walk away. Descriptions like drinking water safe and lead-free are what you want to see.
And avoid the ones made with PVC or vinyl because, odds are, they contain crud you don’t want. If a hose doesn’t list the material it’s made from, look for other options.
Another way we can protect ourselves is with simple garden hose maintenance. Store them in a shady spot if you can. And allow the water run a bit before using it. Also, it’s a good idea to empty it out before you coil.
While always tempting, teach the kids to avoid drinking from the hose. As much fun as it can be, it’s just not worth the risk.
Not All Garden Hoses Are Created Equally
Since most of us don’t use garden hoses daily, keeping up with the best ones available may not be a priority. But if you think about it, they carry the water we use in one way or another. If the water is safe before it hits the hose, it should remain so as it travels through the tubing to our homes or RVs.
And besides, choosing the right garden hose for you can be fun!
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